When you decide to move on from your relationship, you will find there are several options available to help you finalise your relationship, your child access arrangements, and your financial settlement.
Many people assume they must use a Solicitor to finalise their issues but this is not the case, Family Law Mediation was developed over 30 years ago to give couples a clear choice when it comes to finalising their relationships.
If you decide that mediation is the best option for you and your family, you will find some Solicitors that offer their services as Mediators as well as Solicitors. So, what does this mean for you?
Firstly, you need to be aware that a Solicitor cannot act as both a Solicitor and Mediator in a separation. The Family Law Act clearly states that they cannot act as both, which means if your Solicitor mediates with you and your former partner and it is not successful, you will then have to find a new Solicitor to take the matter further.
Often, having a Solicitor acting as your mediator confuses the impartiality of the process. Your former partner is less likely to trust your Solicitor will be impartial when dealing with your family’s issues.
It is important to also know, that the only Mediators who are legally registered to work with Family Law Issues are those with the qualification ‘Family Dispute Resolutions Practitioner’, make sure your Solicitor not only has this qualification but that their registration is up to date. If you want them to mediate for you.
And finally there is the cost; a Solicitor is very likely to charge out their services, whether mediating or giving legal advice, at their usual hourly rate. And mediation is billed to both clients, for example, if your Solicitor charges $500.00 per hour, both you and your former partner may be charged $500.00 per hour each, for the time you are mediating.
Mediation was designed to be a cost effective, timely and a non-adversarial alternative to using Solicitors when couples separate. By using a Solicitor as your Mediator, it could be very costly, it could result in a drawn-out process and you may find it escalates any ill-will that exists between you and your former partner. Choosing a Mediator whose previous qualification provides skills for dealing with people in emotional and difficult situations seems to be a sensible option.